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House Democrats approve $2.2 trillion stimulus bill as talks drag on

Democrats pushed through the House on Thursday night a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus plan, putting down a marker as their leader, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, continues to talk with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on an coronavirus aid deal. While the bill will not be considered in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said it’s too expensive, it may wind up serving as the House Democrats’ final bid before heading home for the remaining few weeks of the fall election campaign.

But instead of unifying the Democratic caucus behind Pelosi in her talks with Mnuchin, the bill showed some cracks in party resolve. It passed on a narrower-than-expected 214-207 tally, with a handful of moderate Democrats defecting to join all House Republicans in opposition.

With lawmakers eager to leave Washington, time is running out for a deal to be reached, and the sides at least publicly appeared to be relatively far apart. The last White House offer was reportedly about $1.6 trillion, well below House Democrats’ $2.2 trillion ask.

But Pelosi said on some issues, like support for expanded coronavirus testing, the issue was not dollars and cents. “It’s the language. It’s not just the money,” she said.

The vote is a blow to the Pelosi-Mnuchin talks though, as it put most Democrats on the record for a bigger bill than what the Pelosi-Mnuchin talks could eventually yield and will allow Democrats to leave Washington claiming to have tried to get a package enacted.

Time is running short to reach a deal, and even if Mnuchin and Pelosi were to come to an agreement, lawmakers would still need a few days to get legislative text written and voted on. But with much of the economic kick from the CARES Act exhausted and airlines threatening to furlough tens of thousands of workers in the coming days, lawmakers also feel pressure to get something done.

Pelosi said Democrats were already looking ahead to the post-election lame-duck legislative session in preparing their offer, noting some priorities could be given additional money in a deal to extend government appropriations past Dec. 11.

House Democrats approve $2.2 trillion stimulus bill as talks drag on, MarketWatch, Oct 2

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